Thomas Hodgkin, the man who first explained the abnormalities taking place in the lymphatic system in 1982. Although he did not note this, the first explanation may have been given in 1966 by Marcello Malpighi. Since then they have been newer findings and developments, and even till date researchers are still trying to link its cause to something.
What is Hodgkin’s Lymphoma?
It can also be called Hodgkin disease, Hodgkin lymphoma. A type of blood cancer that begins in the lymphatic system (helps the immune system fight infections and gets rid of waste products). The disease originates in the lymphocytes (these are white blood cells) that protect the body from infections.
In people with Hodgkin lymphoma these cells grow atypically and spread, it is this spreading that determines the progression of the disease. The further it proliferates, the faster the progression and vice versa. Furthermore, the faster that progression occurs, the more difficult it is for the body to fight even the slightest infections.
What Causes Hodgkin’s Lymphoma?
This is actually due to a mutation in the DNA of B-lymphocytes (a particular type of white blood cells), but the exact reason why this happens is still unknown to researchers. The DNA is responsible for telling the cells of the body when to grow and reproduce, it has to grow in order and at a particular time, but in case of a mutation, the cells keep growing and dividing, when and how they want, without control.
At first, abnormal lymphocytes start to grow and multiply in one or more lymph nodes, usually concentrating on particular areas of the body like the neck, armpits and or groin, but over time they begin to spread to other areas like the bone marrow, liver, spleen, lungs, and skin.
Although the cause of the gene mutation that leads to Hodgkin’s disease may be unknown, many factors that may increase one’s risk of getting this disease include having a weakened immune system like in people with HIV. Also, it happens in people under specific medication that decreases immunity, especially after an organ transplant. People who have been exposed to EBV- Epstein-Barr Virus after receiving treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, may be due to treatment options like chemotherapy or radiotherapy and in people who are overweight (obese).
This disease is not contagious. It is not perceived as one that runs in the family, although it does put one in the high-risk group if a parent, child or sibling has had lymphoma, talking about first-line relatives, it’s still not certain if it is due to an inherited genetic problem or just lifestyle choices. It has been mostly diagnosed in people in their early 20s or late 60s, but it can be experienced at any period of one’s life, though it is more common in males.
What are the First Signs of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma?
The symptoms Hodgkin’s lymphoma is non-specific, and it shares similar characteristics with the common cold, flu and other respiratory infections. Although the early stages of Hodgkin lymphoma are usually asymptomatic, a common early sign is the painless swelling of the lymph node around the neck.
Additional signs may include:
- Lymph node swelling around the neck, groin, and armpit;
- Submerge night sweats;
- Excessive tiredness;
- Loss of appetite; weight loss;
- Intermittent degree fever;
- The feeling of fullness in the abdomen coupled with pain;
- A cough, discomfort in the chest and snorting.
The letters A and B are used to determine the presence or absence of particular symptoms, an example being that the letter A is used if a person is experiencing symptoms like night sweats, weight loss or fever. The letter B is used if the symptoms, factor into the general disease prognosis and may be pointing to an advanced type of cancer.
Can One Die from Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma?
The causes of death and autopsy findings in people who have been treated for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma at an institution over a 13-year period were reviewed, and the autopsy examination revealed evidence of lymphoma in 67 out of 80 patients. The most frequent sites involved, were the respiratory tract, bone marrow, liver, kidney, and gastrointestinal tract (GIT) in this order. The most common cause of death was actually the infection in more than 33% of cases. The lead factors for the infections included the underlying disease, that is the lymphomatous infiltration of the organs and granulocytopenia (a decrease in the number of granulocytes), most of which were after the combination chemotherapy.
Other causes of death were hemorrhage and respiratory failure; this was after the lymphoma had spread to the lung. Regardless of the advances in therapy and supportive care of patients with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, many patients still die of the disease or of conditions related to its treatment.
Treatment of Hodgkin’s disease
The treatment of this disease depends on the type of the disease, the stage the disease is at, one’s general health and preference. The primary goal here is precisely to destroy as many of the cancer cells as possible and bring the disease to a stage of remission. It can be treated successfully with chemotherapy alone or followed up with radiotherapy, in some cases though very few chemotherapy sessions may be combined with steroids. Expect for the extraction of biopsy material for diagnosis, surgery is not a part of the treatment plan.
Sometimes a drug called Rituximab may be used, it’s a type of biological therapy known as a monoclonal antibody, which fixes itself onto the surface of cancer cells and stimulates one’s immune system to attack and kill the cells. It is usually given directly into the vein through a drip that lasts over few hours.
All these treatment options do have their side effects, but they are the best yet available. Through adaptation, the body eventually gets used to the side effects, and it will improve, or the doctor might give additional medication to help with the side effects. The total treatment is actually effective, and most people get cured after the full course of treatment.
The main thing is to adjust one’s lifestyle. So, the chances of falling into the high risks group are reduced, or for those already in the high-risk group, there’s still room for adjustments. If one already has the disease, then this will help one take a more informed decision as to treatment options. Make sure to report any additional symptoms to a doctor as the chances of developing other health conditions are increased in the people who have had the disease, they may include cardiovascular and lung diseases.
Bostick, W. (1951). A REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE ON THE ETIOLOGY OF HODGKIN’S DISEASE. PubMed Central (PMC). Retrieved 19 April 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1520634/
Dr Ananya Mandal, M. (2014). Hodgkin’s Lymphoma History. News-Medical.net. Retrieved 19 April 2018, from https://www.news-medical.net/health/Hodgkins-Lymphoma-History.aspx
Hodgkin Lymphoma Symptoms & Signs | CTCA. (2015). CancerCenter.com. Retrieved 19 April 2018, from https://www.cancercenter.com/hodgkin-lymphoma/symptoms/
Mayor. (2018). Hodgkin’s lymphoma (Hodgkin’s disease) – Diagnosis and treatment – Mayo Clinic. Mayoclinic.org. Retrieved 19 April 2018, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hodgkins-lymphoma/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20352650
Ostrow S, e. (1981). Causes of death in patients with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. – PubMed – NCBI. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved 19 April 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7248904
Ranchod, Y. (2017). Hodgkin’s Disease: Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment. Healthline. Retrieved 19 April 2018, from https://www.healthline.com/health/hodgkins-lymphoma
Stiller, C. A. (1998). What causes Hodgkin’s disease in children?. European Journal of Cancer, 34(4), 523-528.
Treatment. (2015). nhs.uk. Retrieved 19 April 2018, from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hodgkin-lymphoma/treatment/
What Causes Hodgkin Lymphoma?. (2018). Cancer.org. Retrieved 19 April 2018, from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/hodgkin-lymphoma/causes-risks-prevention/what-causes.html